A 66-year-old Great Bend man escaped injury when a tractor trailer lost a load of metal pipes on I-70 in Topeka Wednesday afternoon, resulting in the death of a 29-year-old Manhattan woman in a seven-vehicle crash.
According to the Kansas Highway Patrol, a 2005 Kenworth TK 900 Semi Tractor driven by Jesse C. Vannoy, 38, of Knob Noster, Mo., was traveling eastbound on I-70 near Topeka Boulevard in Topeka when the trailer’s load securement failed, causing large metal pipes to travel over the concrete barrier wall into the westbound lanes of traffic.
A 1996 Chevy 1500 pickup driven by Jeffrey Munz, 66, of Great Bend, was one of six additional vehicles involved in the resulting crash. Munz’s vehicle struck a metal pipe with its front end, forcing the vehicle to travel to the inside westbound lane, then back across the outside lane and become disabled.
Another metal pipe struck the driver’s side rear quarter panel and window of 2014 Ford Expedition driven by 47-year-old Amy Mitchell of Sabetha, then landed on top of a 2020 Kia Forte driven by 29-year-old Brooke N. Rees of Manhattan. A 2011 Ford F250 SuperDuty, driven by 49-year-old Glen Yutzy, was unable to stop and struck the rear of Rees’ vehicle, forcing Rees’ vehicle to rotate counterclockwise and strike the outside concrete bridge rail. Rees was pronounced deceased at the scene due to the severity of the collision with the pipe.
A 2008 Toyota Camry driven by Bruce L. Bowers of Hareyville (in Wabaunsee County) also struck a metal pipe and became disabled in the inside westbound lane. The front end of a 2019 Freightliner Semi Tractor driven by 53-year-old Timothy Hess from Atkins, Virginia, was struck by a metal pipe as it traveled across the westbound lanes, as well.
One of the metal pipes that was struck traveled into a Kansas Department of Transportation guardrail, destroying a section of it.
All other drivers in the wreck were uninjured, as were three additional occupants in the Ford Expedition, three additional occupants in Ford F250 SuperDuty and one additional occupant in the Freightliner.